When I told people I’d be reviewing Seaweed Pringles this week, they reacted with that mild level of shock and disgust that I think is common when discussing almost any product associated with seaweed.
It’s a silly reaction really, when you consider the unpronounceable chemicals most people ingest in the course of an average day’s worth of meals, or the slurry of anus and pig beaks that go into the universally loved hot dog. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. People eat sushi all the time, yet somehow they allow that seaweed a pass. Divorce it from their beloved California Rolls and people recoil.
Granted it’s algae and when people drift into it at the beach they tend to swim the other way as quickly as possible. But that’s not fair. Have you had a good look at a radish lately? Not exactly going to be calling out to you from the fridge in the middle of the night.
Sure it’s called seaweed, a moniker that couldn’t be more unpalatable, but that’s just a bad name. It’s like Homer Simpson reminded Flanders, “There’s nothing wrong with crabgrass. It just has a bad name, that’s all. Everyone would love it if it had a cute name, like, elf grass.”
The whole thing is just a public relations failing. We all know beef is what’s for dinner and that pork is the other white meat, and people everywhere still can’t hear “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” without recalling fondly the all-singing, all-dancing California Raisins.
The only time seaweed gets represented in the popular culture at all is when someone washes up on a deserted beach somewhere. They roll over on their backs, cough up some sea water, and without fail, have a few requisite seaweed strands tangled about them. It’s shorthand for nearly drowning!
How about renaming seaweed “aqua greens” or “hydro leaves”? We could get Sebastian from The Little Mermaid to sing “Under the Sea” or something. And how far away are we from a Snorks reboot? Kids will be clamoring for seaweed. The stuff will sell itself.
These Seaweed Pringles, imported from Thailand, won’t be doing any damage to seaweed’s reputation, but I don’t think these crisps will be winning the algae any new fans either. For those of you imagining popping the top of the can and being swept away to an exotic seashore on a nosegrope of briny goodness, forget it. The nosegrope is not much different than that of a can of regular Pringles. There is a vague earthiness buried somewhere deep in the Pringles aroma, but when I say vague, I mean I could very well be willfully imagining it.
The same goes for the taste. They are not far off from a stack of regular Pringles. There is some sort of nebulous earthiness lurking somewhere on the tongue, but again, it is very, very subtle. If you were blind-tasting, you might not even notice. I don’t think I would.
I found the salt level to be the most surprising. When I think of seaweed, I think salt. Dried seaweed strips can be pretty powerful. But for these chips, they chose to go the other way completely. Each chip is lightly dusted with a sugary coating, making them much sweeter than one would expect. Sugar is the first component in the breakdown of the seaweed extract in the ingredients list. That sweetness is really their defining taste characteristic.
Essentially what you have here are green Pringles. The minute changes to the standard recipe barely make these worth noticing. They could sell these in the U.S. as a St. Patrick’s Day limited edition. You could say that almost non-existent earthiness was meant to hearken back to old Ireland or a field of shamrocks somewhere. No one would bother to contradict you.
Are these bad? No, not at all. They are just unremarkable. These should have been a seaweedy smack in the face. But they’re just green. A little disappointing. Come on Pringles, if you’re going to do seaweed, do seaweed.
Don’t expect any algae-based Claymation characters anytime soon. We’ve got a long way to go, you guys.
(Nutrition Facts – 17 crisps (25g) – 130 calories, 7 grams of fat, 130 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.)
Other Seaweed Pringles reviews:
Crazy from Kong (video)
Item: Seaweed Pringles (Thailand)
Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 110 grams
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Green Pringles. St. Patrick’s Day. The Snorks.
Cons: Sugar. Absence of seaweed. The California Raisins.